Did you know that an average person spends more than half their waking life at work! The fact is a major contributor to the biggest barrier people have in being physically active, time!
It isn’t always easy to fit sport or physical activity into a busy lifestyle. Long hours at work, together with family and other commitments and exercise can be the last thing on the list. However, as we already spend half the day at work – why not use that time to be active?
The workplace offers an ideal solution to this problem. Providing an environment that encourages and supports physical activity, organisations and their employees can experience the benefits of a fit and healthy work environment.
How to create a physically active environment in the Workplace
The workplace is an important setting in which people can increase their levels of physical activity. It is important that organisations create an environment, which encourages employees to be physically active, while at the same time supporting the activities that are already being run.
Here’s a short guide on how to kick-start activity within your workplace:
Step 1 - Gain support from management
It is important to gain support and commitment from senior management from the beginning. Having the management team on board and supportive of ideas will make it a lot easier to implement activities and as well enable staff to take part. Gaining management support adds credibility to a programme amongst employees.
Step 2 – Form a Healthy Workplace Steering Group
It will be difficult for one person to have all the knowledge and time to solely dedicate to workplace health activities. Therefore it is helpful to form a steering group made up of representatives from all levels across the workplace departments.
Step 3 – Identify and recruit workplace champions
Encourage employees to become involved within the programme and help ‘champion’ the messages within their departments, buildings or with peers. They will be the key to the success of promoting activities and messages far and wide, as well as using these people to help deliver activities and provide support for the coordinator. It can also be good for their personal development and help develop leadership, communication and social skills.
The ‘Champions’ start the ball rolling and then act as a driving force once the programme is up and running. If possible, secure time for ‘Champions’ to help support the workplace health programmes, 30 minutes a week can make a difference.
Step 4 - Employee Survey
In order to create the maximum effect of any programme you will need to find out what the barriers are to taking part, what would encourage staff to do more and what activities they would like to get involved in. Carry out a simple survey to find out what employees physical activity interests are. Some ways you could do this include: Online Survey (Survey monkey is great for this), Focus Groups, Suggestion Box, Team Meetings and Events.
Step 5 - Develop an action plan
Develop an action plan, allocating responsibility and resources for your chosen initiatives and explore ways to achieve your goals. It is important to encourage employees to make active choices during their working day.
Northamptonshire Sport support businesses and organisations that want to encourage their workplace to take part in more sport and physical activity, both in and out of work.
Benefits to Businesses
- Increased productivity
- Increase morale and team spirit
- Fun in the workplace
- Decrease absenteeism
- Reduced staff turnover
- Improved intra and inter business relationships
- Active travel saving CO2 and reducing pressure on parking
- Skills and training for staff
- Business 2 Business networking
- Marketing and PR through winning challenges
- Valued workforce
- The WPC provides ideas and the tools to create you own workplace leader board, challenges, and activities.
Benefits to the Employee
- Improved health and fitness (body image, weight loss, concentration, energy, immune system, sleep quality, stress)
- Improved motivation an incentive to be active
- It’s FREE with no obligation or commitments
- There’s the chance to win prizes
- Create banter and better relations with colleagues
- CO2 tracker
- Access to information on local sport and physical activity opportunities and events.
- Save money on parking and petrol through active travel
- The opportunity to meet new people and have FUN!
- Workplace Challenge – www.workplacechallenge.org.uk/northants
- British Heart Foundation practical ideas, tips and resources to help you implement a workplace health programme - www.bhf.org.uk/thinkfit
- NHS Change4Life Employers Toolkit - www.nhs.uk/change4life/pages/resource-casestudy.aspx
For more information
Please contact Sarah McVeigh - Physical Activity Coordinator, Northamptonshire Sport: SMcVeigh@northamptonshire.gov.uk / 01604 366752